In December of 2007, at the young age of 19, I left my parents’ home in Pokhara, Nepal, and moved 8000 miles away to Provo, Utah. My dad helped me with airfare, tuition fee for the first semester, and $500 for miscellaneous expenses. It probably took my dad a good ten years to save that kind of money. It was about $7,500 in total. I come from a very middle-class family in a 3rd world country. My parents were able to provide me with every essential need, but I was always reminded about how scarce the money was, and I was only to spend money if necessary. The mindset that I was raised with has always made me very frugal. However, that mindset was all about to change with my move to the United States of America.
Coming to the USA was my dream come true. I had only seen it on TV. I never thought in my wildest dream that I would make it to the USA. I got here right before the market crash of 2008. However, at the time, I was just a student working a minimum wage job, so I wasn’t impacted. Even at the low market crash and no credit history, I was able to get Credit Card from Wells Fargo with a $3,000 credit limit. Now, this was pretty wild for me. I didn’t understand how the credit card worked. I treated like this was free money. I bought a new shiny laptop, fancy monitors and all the tech stuff that I had only seen on TVs. And guess what? I was only required to pay about $70 a month. Not having to pay cash upfront was a batshit crazy new concept to me. In Nepal, you could only buy something if you had cash for it. Anyways, this was how made entry to the world of credit cards. When I graduated from my undergrad, I was in about $7,000 credit card debt and $200 in my bank account but no student debt.
Right after I graduated, I was able to land a full-time job at the company I was doing an internship. The pay was meager for the position. However, due to my visa restriction, I didn’t have many options, so I took the job anyway. With the increase in the number of hours, I was going to work and also increase in the salary, albeit not much, I quadrupled my income overnight. Instead of making plans to pay off my credit card debt, I thought I deserved something special. So what do I do? I leased a brand new car off the dealership. At this moment is where my downward financial spiral started.